Moscow with its more than twelve million inhabitants has three international airports. The best known is Sheremetyevo (international abbreviation SVO), which is 35 km northwest of Red Square. Russia’s largest airline Aeroflot has its hub here. The second largest airport, Domodedovo (international abbreviation DME), is about 45 km south-east of the center, from where the S7 airline, which mainly flies within Russia, and numerous international airlines such as Lufthansa take off and land. Finally, there is the third largest airport called Moscow-Wnukovo (abbreviation VKO), which serves numerous low-cost airlines such as Pobeda and is the closest to Moscow city center at just under 30 km.
Aeroexpress to the city center
First the good news – all three airports are easy to reach, both by taxi and by public transport such as train and bus. All three airports are connected to the Moscow city center by means of the so-called Aeroexpress. The Aeroexpress is certainly the most popular and the easiest way for foreigners to get to the center of Moscow. With the striking red signs Aeroexpress, you can find the way to the express trains both at Moscow’s three major airports and at the respective departure stations.
The modern, wifi-equipped trains from the private provider have little in common with the city railway trains from the Russian capital, which still originate from the Soviet era, and run to all three airports from early morning until after midnight. The schedule varies from airport to airport and time of day. As a rule of thumb, trains go to Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo every half an hour during the day to and from the airport, while Wnukowo is only served hourly for much of the day.
The same pricing scheme applies to all three airports: at 300 rubles (around $ 4.50) for a one-way trip, the prices for the trip are significantly more expensive than regular public transport tickets in Moscow, but are still affordable. Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo are each around 35 minutes from the center, and Domodedovo Airport is 45 minutes away.
If you buy the ticket in advance or via the app, there is a 50 ruble discount, further discounts are available if you book a return trip with one ticket, which costs 600 rubles (around $ 8.50). When it comes to value for money, the Aeroexpress trains are certainly the best option as a solo traveler. Especially since bypassing the often treacherous Moscow traffic – in the rush hour a drive by car can take an hour longer than previously estimated.
The biggest disadvantage is that you can of course not go directly to the desired destination within Moscow. However, all three Aeroexpress trains take you to one of the major Moscow train stations, which in turn are connected to the ring line of the Moscow Metro, from where you can quickly reach all corners of the center of Moscow.
- Sheremetyevo Airport -> Belorussky Vokzal (journey time 35 minutes)
- Domodedovo -> Paveletsky Vokzal (journey time 45 minutes)
- Wnukowo -> Kiewsky Vokzal (travel time 35 minutes)
Prices (apply to all three airports in the city and to the airport):
- One-way ticket at the counter = 300 rubles
- Online ticket = 300 rubles
- Round trip = 600 rubles
- Tickets for 10 trips = 2,300 rubles
- Ticket Business Class = 800 rubles
Link: timetables of the Aeroexpress trains to the city center
Link: timetables of the Aeroexpress trains to the airports
In the city or to the airport by taxi app
Alternatively, the transport from and to the airport can also be regulated using the taxi app. Yandex-Taxi and Gett are the two most popular providers in Moscow. At Yandex the flat rate to all three international airports currently costs 1100 rubles ($ 16) and at Gett even only 950 rubles ($ 14) in the cheapest variant, with a small car of the size VW Polo or Ford Focus.
Unless you want to go to the airport with too much luggage or with more than two people, this is certainly the easiest method. Moderate surcharges are required for larger vehicle categories.
Without knowledge of Russian, however, it would be much easier to get to the airport by taxi app than from the airport to the city. Due to the confusing location in front of the three major airports, it may be necessary to contact the driver by phone to find the right vehicle. Because the GPS signal of the respective app only gives the location with an accuracy of about ten to fifteen meters – with several lanes running side by side in front of the terminal and dozens of waiting passengers and arriving taxis, it is certainly not always easy to find yourself straight away.
If you are still dependent on the WiFi of the airport building and therefore must not move too far from the entrance, the whole thing could prove to be difficult. From the city to the airport, however, the taxi app without knowledge of Russian proves to be the much easier method. The hotel or AirBnB address can be entered as the pick-up location, and a taxi can usually be ordered within a few minutes.
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With the classic taxi into the city
If you want to drive into the city by regular taxi, you have to expect considerable additional costs. The website of Domodedovo airport gives 2,000 rubles as a guide for a trip to the center, i.e. just $ 28. Trips to and from Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo should be a little cheaper. As with the taxi apps, the following also applies here: Especially at rush hour, you should probably prefer the train because Moscow’s streets burst at the seams in the after-hours traffic.
Bus metro combination
For experienced travelers to Russia or visitors with a particularly tight budget, there is still the option of all three airports to get to the nearest metro station by bus or Marshrutka (mini-bus with a fixed route but flexible stops).
From Vnukowo, for example, the 45M minibus line goes to the Yugo-Zapadnaya metro station on the red line № 1 of the Moscow Metro, for just 150 rubles. Together with the 62 rubles ticket for the metro, you can get into the city for just over $ 3.
Sheremetyevo Airport can be reached from the Rechnoy Vokzal metro station on Marshrutka line 949 for 80 rubles, or from Planernaya metro station with Marshrutka 948 for 80 rubles ($ 1.1). The minibuses run approximately every 15 minutes. Domodedovo Airport is connected by express bus to the metro station of the same name every half hour. The fare here is 150 rubles (a good 2,1 $).
However, complications must be expected with this transport route – the bus drivers in Moscow usually only speak Russian. Taking the metro or minibuses with luggage is not always comfortable. However, you can save money, especially as a solo traveler.